A linguist's wife has died under circumstances that might be a really weird accident or might be suicide--she fell from the top of their apple tree and the only witness was their Rhodesian ridgeback dog.
He decides to try to teach the dog to talk enough to tell him what happened.
Everything in the story has a mundane explanations, but it's got rather a lot about Tam Lin, there's a weird cult of guys who are trying to surgically alter dogs to make speech possible (don't read this book if you can't deal with bad things happening to dogs), and there's a small possibility that telephone psychics occasionally have real powers.
I'm not sure whether I'd recommend it. There was so much about emotions that I began to feel suffocated--I'm not sure whether I was dealing with the conventions of a for-women genre that I'm not familiar with, or just that it's a reasonable representation of a man who's pretty isolated and who's grieving hard.
On the plus side, the prose is good, many of the images are vivid, the efforts to teach language to the dog are plausible and sometimes funny, and it's interesting to see a book that's neither in the genre nor quite out of it.
Any recommendations for other books that aren't quite sf?